Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MoveOn's Town Hall Meeting

Join's Virtual Town Hall: Iraq

Last night marked an historic event- the Town Hall meeting, convening seven major candidates for President in '08. Each candidate had about ten minutes to speak about how he or she would end the war in Iraq. Each did well. And I was surprised that after listening to all the candidates, the ones who I thought did the best were Edwards, Biden, Dodd and Kucinich. Amazing because prior to listening, I would have said my top candidates are Obama, Clinton and Richardson.

Edwards was very clear about ending the enormously bloated no-bid contracts that go to private contractors. Hallelujah. These no-bid contracts represent a ridiculous, opaque practice for a country that supposedly has a transparent democracy. Edwards also had a really detailed plan for withdrawal, which seemed carefully considered.

Biden was impressive for his depth of political experience and his knowledge of the region. I especially appreciated his answer to "then what?" What happens after troop withdrawal? What's the long term thinking for our engagement in the Middle East? I felt very confident in this man's ability to effectively lead.

Kucinich was very clear about withdrawing from Iraq, unsurprisingly. What was surprising to me was the kind of foreign policy understanding he showed. He wasn't afraid to talk about UN peacekeeping and various other diplomatic strategies. He's a man of vision, for sure. But he also can be a man of action.

Dodd was good, though I wasn't totally blown away. Still, he had some good points about withdrawal and foreign policy. I can't remember anything in particular, but that could be due to a certain adorable Minkie.

Obama had a plan but not as detailed as the others. I felt that Clinton was fighting against the past too much at times, conceding too much at times. She repeated a phrase about needing to "face reality," which kind of rang a warning bell with me. Richardson was forthright about what needed to happen diplomatically, but he sounded a little too much like "throw 'em in a room together and we'll make 'em do this and we'll make 'em do that...."

Those are my first impressions. It'll be interesting to see who emerges as the leader as this race progresses!